Christchurch waterways awash with flowers to remember quake victims video

KIRK HARGREAVES

February 22nd river of flowers ceremony. Medway Street, Avonside

Rivers and creeks across Christchurch have been transformed into floating carpets of colour to remember victims of the February 2011 earthquake.

People gathered at 19 riverside locations on Monday and dropped thousands of flowers in the water to commemorate the day Christchurch changed forever and 185 lives were lost.

One of the biggest gatherings was near the junction of Medway St and River Rd in Richmond where about 250 school children sang waiatas before two minutes of silence was observed at 12.51pm.

The silence was shattered by a haka performed by students from Banks Ave School followed by a lone piper playing Amazing Grace, before the hundreds who had gathered on the riverbank threw flowers into the Avon.

Among them was Jocelyn Adams and her 86-year-old mother Jean McGrath. Adams was living in New Brighton when the earthquake hit and her home was red-zoned. She now lives in Woodend but says her heart is still in the east.

Local school children throw flowers into the Avon to mark the fifth anniversary of the deadly February 22, 2011 earthquake.
KIRK HARGREAVES/FAIRFAX NZ

Local school children throw flowers into the Avon to mark the fifth anniversary of the deadly February 22, 2011 earthquake.

"It's lovely to share the day with people."

Krissy Christensen said she chose to attend the River Rd commemorations because two of her friends had lost their homes on the street and she felt a strong tie to the area. 

"I don't come from this area, I come from the other side of town, but my heart is very much here."

Students from Shirley Intermediate School observe two minutes of silence at a River of Flowers ceremony on the banks of ...
KIRK HARGREAVES/FAIRFAX NZ

Students from Shirley Intermediate School observe two minutes of silence at a River of Flowers ceremony on the banks of the Avon River.

Tanya Robinson wanted to be at the ceremony for her son's sake. A student at Banks Ave School, he had been upset by the Valentines Day earthquake and was feeling anxious. They had only been back in Christchurch for a month when it hit, having fled city for Pukekohe when their home was red-zoned.

Reverend Mike Coleman, who led the commemoration service, said it was important people acknowledged the "pain, grief and destruction" of the earthquakes.

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